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What is Ozempic?

What is Ozempic?

Stefano Mirabello NowPatientGreen tick
Written by Rajive Patel, BPharm
Updated on 31 Aug 2023
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If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, you may have heard of Ozempic. Ozempic is a diabetes medication that has become increasingly popular for treating type 2 diabetes. It works by lowering blood sugar levels and helping to improve blood glucose levels for people with type 2 diabetes mellitus. In this article, we will break down what Ozempic is, how it helps manage diabetes and some of the side effects associated with this medication.

Ozempic is the brand name for the drug semaglutide. It is manufactured by the drug company Novo Nordisk. It’s an injectable prescription drug that can help lower your blood sugar levels if you have type 2 diabetes. Ozempic is also approved to lower the risk of a major cardiovascular event (like a heart attack or stroke) in patients with type 2 diabetes.

Ozempic can be prescribed in combination with other diabetes medications such as metformin or as the sole treatment. It should not be used in patients with type 1 diabetes or for the treatment of diabetic ketoacidosis. Ozempic is the same medication as the popular weight loss drug Wegovy, used for chronic weight management for overweight people with BMI 27 to 29.

In recent months, the demand for unapproved weight loss use of Ozempic has been surging. Unfortunately, this sudden spike in off-label requests is creating serious problems for those who use the drug to treat their diabetes. Patients reliant on a steady supply of Ozempic are now facing increasing difficulty in securing repeat prescriptions due to shortages of the drug.

Semaglutide

Semaglutide is the active ingredient in Ozempic. It belongs to a class of medications known as glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) receptor agonists. These drugs work by stimulating the pancreas to produce more insulin when your blood sugar levels increase after eating a meal – this helps regulate your blood sugar levels throughout the day.

GLP-1 receptor agonists also slow digestion and reduce appetite, which can help with weight loss which is another important factor in managing diabetes.

How do you take Ozempic?

Ozempic is a weekly semaglutide treatment, that comes in a prefilled pen and must be injected subcutaneously, which means under the skin. The injection site should be in either the abdomen, thigh, or upper arm. Avoid injecting Ozempic into areas with scars, moles, swelling or where the skin feels tender to the touch. It is important to rotate the dose location with each weekly injection and to not use any injured or infected areas. This helps prevent skin irritation, tissue damage and inflammation at the site of administration.

To ensure effective dosage and good patient outcomes, patients need to use the correct technique when using Ozempic weekly. For fully detailed instructions on how to use an Ozempic pen, you should always read and follow the patient instructions provided or you can see the drug’s website. Your pharmacist can also show you the correct way.

How does Ozempic work?

When injected, semaglutide travels through your bloodstream and binds to receptors on cells in the pancreas and liver, which then increase insulin production and decrease glucose production accordingly. This helps keep blood sugar levels within an acceptable range throughout the day, reducing the risk of complications associated with high or low blood sugar levels such as heart disease and nerve damage.

Additionally, because Ozempic slows digestion and reduces appetite, it may contribute to weight loss which further helps manage diabetes by improving insulin sensitivity and reducing glucose production in the liver. Plus, since obesity is considered one of the risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes in the first place, maintaining a healthy weight can help prevent further health complications from arising due to uncontrolled glucose levels.

What is the dosage for Ozempic?

Ozempic is a prescription medication designed to treat people with type 2 diabetes. The starting dose of Ozempic is generally 0.25 mg once a week or 0.5 mg once a week. This may be different depending on your particular health need. It’s important to follow the instructions your doctor gives you when starting (or adjusting) your dose as everyone responds differently to medications. Generally, it takes 3 weeks before the full effect of Ozempic is felt and if necessary, your doctor can increase to the next dose, 0.5 mg once a week or 1 mg once a week. If you miss a dose, do not double up, inject the missed dose as soon as you remember it. However, if more than 5 days have passed since the missed dose, skip the missed one. Weekly doses higher than 2mg are not recommended.

Side effects of Ozempic

While most people take Ozempic without issue, there are some potential side effects to consider. The most common side effects of Ozempic include nausea, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, constipation, headache, indigestion, dizziness and weight loss.

If any of these side effects become more severe or do not subside with time, it’s essential to speak with a healthcare professional about the best way to manage them. Some people may also experience more serious side effects such as an allergic reaction causing hives, tightness or difficulty breathing. Hypoglycemia may also occur if this drug is prescribed with other diabetes medications. If you notice these symptoms after taking Ozempic, contact your doctor immediately for advice.

Is Ozempic effective?

The clinical trials conducted for Ozempic revealed that patients who took it experienced significant reductions in blood sugar levels and experienced a reduction in body weight as well. Additionally, there were no major side effects, making it a generally safe and effective treatment option for people with diabetes. Overall, Ozempic appears to be an effective drug for adults looking to better manage their diabetes.

Who should not take Ozempic?

Ozempic is an extremely effective injectable medication for those who suffer from type 2 diabetes however, there are some circumstances where it may not be the best option. People that are pregnant or breastfeeding, those undergoing dialysis, severe kidney problems, severe liver problems and any person under 18 years of age should not take Ozempic.

Additionally, individuals with a history of serious pancreatitis, a family history of medullary thyroid carcinoma (thyroid cancer), gallbladder disease, diabetic retinopathy (damage to the eyes caused by diabetes) and certain inherited diseases (multiple endocrine neoplasia syndrome type 2 or MEN 2), should also avoid treatment with this medication.

Before you receive Ozempic, your doctor will perform a full medical evaluation to determine if there is any type of safety concern that makes this drug unsuitable for you. It’s important to discuss this honestly with your doctor if you think you may be in one of these categories, so they can decide the best treatment plan for you.

Tips for Taking Ozempic Properly

For Ozempic to be effective, it’s important to take as your prescriber instructs. This includes

  • Must be taken at approximately the same time every day for optimal results
  • Following any dietary recommendations they may have given you, such as avoiding regular consumption of foods high in fat, sugar and calories or eating more fibre-rich foods like vegetables and whole grains
  • Keep refills on hand so that you don’t run out between doctor appointments
  • After injecting, it may help to massage the area a bit before using an alcohol swab and then discarding it safely in the trash
  • Rotate injection sites

Overall, Ozempic is an effective tool for managing type 2 diabetes when taken as prescribed by a doctor. It works by helping regulate blood sugar throughout the day while also potentially contributing to weight loss, both of which are key components of controlling glucose levels over time. While there are potential side effects associated with taking this medication, they are typically mild enough that most people don’t experience any issues while taking it regularly. However, if you do experience any adverse reactions, talk to your doctor right away so they can adjust your dosage accordingly or look into alternative treatment options if necessary. Always inform your GP and pharmacist about all the medicines you take, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, herbal supplements, and other medicines to treat diabetes

Sources

Medical Disclaimer

NowPatient has taken all reasonable steps to ensure that all material is factually accurate, complete, and current. However, the knowledge and experience of a qualified healthcare professional should always be sought after instead of using the information in this page. Before taking any drug, you should always speak to your doctor or another qualified healthcare provider.

The information provided here about medications is subject to change and is not meant to include all uses, precautions, warnings, directions, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or negative effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a particular medication does not imply that the medication or medication combination is appropriate for all patients or for all possible purposes.

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